Last words: ‘Don’t worry, Rescue 1122 will save us’

Relatives of survivors and victims recount their experiences.

Rameez Khan May 09, 2013
“The last words I heard from him were, ‘Don’t worry, Rescue 1122 is here, they will save us,’” says relative of a victim. PHOTO: AFP


Hafiz Muhammad Talha was at home when he heard that the LDA plaza was on fire. The 19-year-old immediately called his father Talib Hussain, a stenographer at the Lahore Development Authority, who was stuck in the building.

Talha, a student, rushed to the scene and saw his father perched on a window sill at the seventh floor of the building. He made several more calls to his father, in between fielding calls from concerned relatives.

“The last words I heard from him were, ‘Don’t worry, Rescue 1122 is here, they will save us,’” Talha says, speaking to The Express Tribune at Services Hospital. Shortly after the fifth and final phone call, Talha saw his father plunge to his death, one of at least eight who died in Thursday’s fire.

Talha says he could see his father screaming for help, but neither the helicopter hovering around the building nor the rescue teams below could reach him. Rescuers held a life net for him to jump onto. First, Talib Hussain pushed out Muhammad Asif from the window, though he feared the man was already dead from smoke inhalation, says Talha. “He said that he had to try to save him,” he says.

As rescuers removed the limp and lifeless Asif from the net, Hussain jumped too. “They moved the net seconds before he jumped,” says Talha. Hussain landed on the exhaust of an air-conditioning unit, and died at the scene.

Ganga Ram Hospital

Shams Alam, personal assistant to the LDA director general, and Syed Waseem, another LDA employee, were rescued from the ninth floor of the plaza via an emergency ladder.

“It was an agonising wait, watching rescuers try to get the ladder aligned to the building and reaching up to him,” said his son Naveed Alam, speaking at Ganga Ram Hospital, where his father was being treated for smoke inhalation. “I think the operation was very slow.”

“Rescue 1122 clearly needs more equipment for such rescue operations,” said Syed Aqeel, Waseem’s brother. He was grateful that his brother was safe, but sad at the deaths of some of his colleagues.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2013.


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numbersnumbers | 8 years ago | Reply

It should be noted that in most of the world where high rise buildings are constructed, strict building codes require fire resistant dedicated stair wells with fire exits marked on every floor! A quick trip to any of the gulf countries would see that those building codes are strictly enforced for the good of the public. If such codes are lax or non-existent in Pakistan (or easily avoided by bribes and corruption), then some news organization(s) needs to survey as many new buildings in major cities to see if even basic fire codes have been followed during construction AND PUBLISH THE RESULTS!

QB | 8 years ago | Reply

@ Breaking Bad. Sorry my friend but I must disagree with you.

Punjab government clearly prioritized the projects that can be "seen" and "look" beautiful. There is obviously benefit to these projects. But a smart government would spend resources on improving the systems. Like emergency response, police, health etc. Punjab government has not much to show in these areas.

There is widespread sense of insecurity in all cities including Lahore. Same Patwari system is in place. I would rather feel safe and have a sense of justice first before driving on a beautiful underpass.

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